Dreaming of Annecy
16th October 2019
Oh Annecy... I will dream of you for the rest of my life. I may have only seen a tiny fraction of what this world has to offer, but out of everywhere I have been lucky enough to visit in my life so far, Annecy is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. With it's enchanting canals and pastel-coloured buildings on one side and a view of the crystal clear Lac D'annecy and the alps perfectly towering over on the other, there is a photo opportunity at every single angle. It was a no-brainer that this was going to be somewhere we were going to stay for a while.
So far on our trip the longest we have stayed in the same place has been two nights. We have really been waiting for somewhere where we felt right at home, surrounded by nature and friendly faces and Annecy really exceeded our expectations. On our first night we stayed at Le Belvedere campsite, just a 15 minute walk away from the centre of Annecy. Just a short walk down a hill and we were already greeted by the breathtaking glacial lake which we later found out is some of the purest water in world thanks to Annecy's strict environmental laws, protecting not only the lake but the incredible biodiversity which includes bird species that are known to be very rare in Europe.
5 minutes later after a picturesque walk by the lake we were in the centre of Annecy, it was like a Pinteresters dream! Dubbed the Venice of France, the canals and flower lined streets made you feel like you were in some kind of fairytale. The beauty of coming to places like this is if you are on a budget (like us), it really isn't difficult to experience the area without breaking the bank. We spent a good hour wandering the streets and soaking in the atmosphere and the breathtaking views. The streets were also lined with many restaurants and bars all with outdoor seating filled with people enjoying local cuisines such as fondue and crepes... so we thought it was time to treat ourselves.
The next two nights we stayed in a free Aire, just 5 minutes away from the previous campsite and only a 10 minute walk away from the town centre. From day one here we really felt right at home, the city is so clean and so well looked after it was a really refreshing environment to be in. The streets were busy but not too crowded that you couldn't move - how I imagine it to be in the height of summer, and the weather was perfect. We only ventured out in the evening once and unfortunately the atmosphere was not what I was hoping for. It was very quiet and most restaurants and bars were empty, but I'm going to put that down to us being there at the very end of the summer season and it was also a Thursday.
We spent the next few days soaking up the sun and the atmosphere and in a quest to find our next campsite we unintentionally drove the entire perimeter of the lake, which turned out to be a very happy accident. We found a lay-by right on the waterfront with only a few other cars parked, so we made lunch, set out our deck chairs and enjoyed a few sandwiches in the company of a few ducks and a swan. I highly recommend either cycling or driving around the whole lake given the chance, as it is just the gift that keeps on giving. We drove through even more enchanting villages, passed more belangeries than we could count and the view was truly magical from every angle.
We knew from the moment we arrived in Annecy that at some point we had to get out in the water someway or another. We walked along the lake where multiple boats and pedalo's were parked up. Sticking to our budget we decided to hop on a pedalo which cost us €20 for 1 hour, which absolutely flew by! We pedalled ourselves to the centre of the lake and decided to take a dip in the glacial lake... might I stress the word glacial. It was a cold as it sounds, but it was something we both knew we would 100% regret if we didn't jump in. Although we came here at the end of the summer season, we were lucky that the weather during the day was still glorious, so although the temperature of the water was slowly dropping, we definitely made it just in time to enjoy the last of the sun.
To finish off the most perfect week in this perfect place, we had heard from a local that there was a festival happening on our last day. Le retour des alpages, is a festival that welcomes the cows and sheep back into the valley after grazing for around 4 months and are now coming back from the pastures before the rough and cold winter arrives, also a way of welcoming the beginning of Autumn. The town was bursting with a cheerful and very "French" atmosphere, with stalls selling local meats and cheeses up and down the streets and folklore bands on every corner entertaining locals and tourists alike, it really was the icing on top of the cake and the best way to end our time in this fairytale town... Annecy we will be back again some day.